THE BARGAINS

Every store seems to have one aberrational rack that's priced lower than at any other place; get into the habit of scanning prices so you recognize a deal when you see one. Other money-savers: Nikki's has a Beer of the Month, with entire portfolios discounted (they also have tastings most Thursdays from 6-8 pm). And variety 12-packs do double duty, cutting costs and doing the mixing for you (People's has the best selection of samplers).


AND . . .

Here's the negative entry: Stores shouldn't sell old beer. OK, sell old beer at half-price (or less). But don't foist year-old stock on your customers. Last week I saw four-packs of Oskar Blues' G'Knight which were canned more than a year ago. Criminal —especially at $15/$16! Some beers age quite nicely, but not imperial IPAs. At least most inferior stores lend discriminating beer buyers a clue by not dusting their musty stock, though discriminating beer buyers shouldn't return to inferior stores — even for half-price or less stock.

And many stores that pride themselves on their beer selection and knowledge need to step it up. When I call around to check on new releases, often from best-selling craft brewers, the "beer guy" is clueless ("Hoptimum? Is that a seasonal? We might get a case"). All they need to do is spend a few minutes on the aforementioned forums to know what they need to get on the shelf.


SPRING INTO BEER

The 6th Annual Great International Spring Beer Festival will pour it on at the Rhode Island Convention Center, 1 Sabin St, Providence, on Saturday, April 14 from 1-4:30 and 6:30-10 pm. Standout brewers (many also slated for the Newport Craft Beer Fest are noted with an * in the following item ) include: Berkshire, Blue Hills*, Brooklyn*, Cape Ann*, the Craft Beer Guild of RI (Clown Shoes, Sixpoint*, Kentucky Ale, Green Flash), Elevated Spirits (TBA), Grey Sail*, Harpoon*, Ithaca, Lagunitas*, Long Trail, Mayflower*, Narragansett*, Newport Storm*, Olde Burnside*, Offshore, Opa Opa, Otter Creek, Paper City, Sebago*, Shipyard, Trinity Brewhouse*, Union Station*, and Woodstock Inn* (which is being distributed in our market again, by the way). Tix are $40 @ beerfestamerica.com.


BEER OVER THE BRIDGE

Big news from the City By the Sea: The First Annual Newport Craft Beer Festival, sponsored by Pour Judgement, the great craft beer bar on Broadway, and Newport Storm, will take place on the lawn of the Great Friends Meeting House (30 Farewell St) on Saturday, April 28 from 2-6 pm. Hank Whitin, co-owner of Pour Judgement, says, "It will be a 'different' kind of beer festival, with the focus on personal interaction between the brewers and guests." Here's who has signed on so far: all of the pourers with an asterisk in the previous item , plus Full Sail, Heavy Seas (those two had to represent in Newport!), Stone, Coddington, and Wachusett. The South Shore Homebrew Club will be plying their trade and offering tips to budding artisans. And there will be music and food from lower Broadway eateries. Tix are $45 (only 500 will be sold); get 'em at NewportCraftBeerFestival.com; proceeds benefit the Newport Historical Society.

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